TimberSurf’s Model Railway  

Modelling Tips, Links & Guides for Model Railways

Lumsdonia Railway

A web page for my indulgence and sharing ideas and irregular updates on my Model railway

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Idea’s to make your modelling life easier or better or cheaper

   SUPPLIES - Section 100

Tips 100

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Readily available for pennies. A mainstay resource for day to day use. Throw away stirrer, fence post, glue spreader, fine paint spot applicator, styrene foam joiner, chimney pot,etc.

Price guide:- 200 for £1

Source:- Chain stores, Wilko, Pound shops

Tip 101


Available in 5 meter to 50m lengths a few widths, this versatile material acts as a great non-stick substrate for painting and gluing. Virtually nothing sticks to it, so can be used as base while gluing, painting small parts, mould release base , etc.

Price guide:- 5M for £1

Source:- Chain stores, Wilko, Pound shops

Tip 103

 Grease Proof Paper

Readily available to purchase, a cheap source of scenery material. Cut into strips (for manicured garden hedging) and cover with flock or tease till rough and cover with flock (for overgrown wild style). Chop up with scissors to make ground cover or small bushes.

Price guide:- 10 for £1

Source:- Chain stores, Wilko, Pound shops

Tip 104

 Kitchen Scourers

Tip 105

Always carry a few re-sealable plastic bags around with you when your out and about. Just keep them handy in the car or corner of your rucksack or in your coat pocket. Then take the opportunity when away from home, to collect sand and gravel. Walking in the country side, rivers and streams and beaches all offer a variety of different colours, textures and sizes, different area’s offer different geological varieties. This way, you can amass a collection of various types of scatter for your layout, supplementing the standard (and not free ballast) available commercially. They can be used for ballast or rocky terrain, rough area’s, gravel tracks, quarries, etc, etc.

See Tip 907 for segregation

Price guide:- Free!

Source:- Anywhere, you go, beach, rocky outcrops, quarries, your garden, the countryside, rivers, etc, etc. It doesn’t matter if it’s mixed up with soil and mud, that can be washed off with a sieve.

Tip 106

Gravel and Sand collecting

Readily available everywhere. A mainstay resource for day to day use. Fence post, wooden floor, sleeper retaining wall, construction, lumber, buildings, huts, buffers, infill, you name it, etc.

Either buy and chop the ignition head off or obtain from a hobby store with no heads in bulk. Kitchen match's are also available were something longer is required.

Price guide:- < £1

Source:- Chain stores, Wilko, Pound shops

Tip 102


Coffee stirrer wooden sticks come in a variety of lengths and thicknesses (they are not all the same!) and can be sourced from the high street drink vendors for free. Very useful building material for a myriad of uses.

Price guide:- Free if you buy a coffee!

Source:- Hotels, Cafes, Coffee shops, etc. Also available online in bulk.

Coffee Stirrers

Insulation tape can be had in many colours including white and yellow. Easy to cut to length with scissors and cheap enough to wrap right round any container and mark with indelible pen, it makes a great label for any size/shape of container. Readily removable if the containers use changes. Multi-colours can be used for quick identification of different mediums stored.

Price guide:- < £1

Source:- Pound shops, electrical wholesalers, hardware stores.

Tip 107

Replaceable label

Round Wooden Lolly sticks are a great resource for building and wood stacks, poles fence posts, lumber, steel bar etc. Available from 3mm to 8mm and a large range of variuos lengths, most commom is 4mm x 100mm and 4.5mm X 150mm

Price guide:- £4 for 100

Source:- Online, Ebay

Tip 108

Round Wooden Lollipop Sticks

Usually about 100mm by 3.5mm, plastic lollipop sticks are useful for making pipe loads and stacks, but I have found that they make a poor building material, as they are virtually un gluable!

Price guide:-  £1 for 100

Source:- Online, Ebay

Tip 109

Round Plastic lollipop sticks

Standard wooden flat lollipop sticks are make from high quality wood and can be used for just about anything, great throw away mixing spatula's. Usually about 11mm wide and come in variuos lengths but usually 114mm.

Price guide:-  £2 for 100

Source:- Pound shops, Online, Ebay, craft shop

Tip 110

Wooded lolly sticks

Large or jumbo wooden flat lollipop sticks are make from high quality wood and can be used for just about anything, same as standard except wider. Usually about 19mm wide and come in variuos lengths but usually 150mm.

Price guide:- £4 for 100

Source:- Online, Ebay, craft shop

Tip 111

Large Jumbo Lolly Sticks

Toffee apple sticks, wooden square are make from quality wood and can be used for just about anything, hwever they can sometimes be poor quality and be bent or miss shaped (wavey), choose the supplier carefully.They range from 4mm to 6mm, but most are 4.5mm or 5mm and about 140mm long

Price guide:- £4 for 50

Source:- Online, Ebay

Tip 112

Toffee Apple Sticks

If you need to add weight to your rolling stock, these are the "go to" fix. Designed as "stick on" balancing weights for car wheels, they have a permanent self adhesive peel off backing and are made from steel and zinc plated to resist rust. They come in a strip of 8 weights, of 5 and 10 grams and can be baught on Ebay from 2 strips to a boxes of 100. (a whole box of 100 strips being the cheapest way of buying). Stick to underside of wagons and carriages or inside if an enclosed wagon to increase the wagon weight

(see Tip 603 for the right amount)

Price guide:- 2 strips for £2, 100 strips for £16

Source:- garages, tyre fitters, car part shops, online and Ebay

Tip 113

Adhesive Lead Free 60g Strips Stick On Weights

Back to TIPS

This clear solvent is known as


Its chemical name is IPA Propan-2-ol 99% (don’t buy rubbing alcohol that is only 70-80% IPA)

Primary use is as a surface tension reducer for pre spraying ballast before soaking in water/PVA glue (does a better job than just adding washing up liquid) and as a track cleaning agent, but also a vast range of uses such as:-



Air brush acrylic solvent

Air brush cleaner

Solder flux removal

Best used from a spray bottle (refillable perfume bottles are ideal)

Price guide:- £6 a litre, £16 for 5 litres

Source:- online and Ebay (search for

 Isopropyl Alcohol/Isopropanol )

Tip 114

IPA wonder cleaner

IPA is primarily produced by combining water and propene in a hydration reaction or by hydrogenating acetone. These are two routes for the hydration process and both processes require that the isopropyl alcohol be separated from the water and other by-products by distillation. Isopropyl alcohol and water form an azeotrope and simple distillation gives a material that is 87.9% by weight isopropyl alcohol and 12.1% by weight water.

Rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting pads typically contain a 60–70% solution of isopropyl alcohol in water.  Isopropyl alcohol is a major ingredient in "gas dryer" fuel additives. As a biological specimen preservative, isopropyl alcohol provides a comparatively non-toxic alternative to formaldehyde and other synthetic preservatives. Isopropyl alcohol solutions of 70–99% are used to preserve specimens.

It also evaporates quickly, leaves nearly zero oil traces, compared to ethanol, and is relatively non-toxic, compared to alternative solvents. Thus, it is used widely as a solvent and as a cleaning fluid, especially for dissolving oils. Examples of this application include cleaning electronic devices such as contact pins (like those on ROM cartridges), magnetic tape and disk heads (such as those in audio and video tape recorders and floppy disk drives), the lenses of lasers in optical disc drives (e.g., CD, DVD) and removing thermal paste from heatsinks and IC packages (such as CPUs).

Common Product Uses:

Air Brush Cleaner

Lens Cleaner

Glass Cleaner

Gas Dryer Fuel Additive

Specimen preservative

Contact pin cleaner

Magnetic tap cleaner

Disk head cleaner

Thermal past remover

Rubbing alcohol

Hand sanitizer

Disinfecting pads

Surface cleaner




Kills mold (books, leather, furniture)


Highly flammable liquid and vapour.

Causes serious eye irritation.

May cause drowsiness or dizziness.

Keep away from heat/sparks/open flames/hot surface. – No smoking.